The question of why males of many species produce elaborate mating displays has now been largely resolved: females prefer to mate with males that produce such displays. However, the question of why females prefer such displays has been controversial, with an emerging consensus that such displays often provide information to females about the direct fitness benefits that males provide to females and/or the indirect fitness benefits provided to offspring. Alternative explanations, such as production of arbitrarily attractive sons or innate pre-existing female sensory or perceptual bias, have also received support in certain taxa. Here, we describe multivariate female preference functions for male acoustic traits in two chirping species of field crickets with slow pulse rates; our data reveal cryptic female preferences for long trills that have not previously been observed in other chirping species. The trill preferences are evolutionarily pre-existing in the sense that males have not (yet?) exploited them, and they coexist with chirp preferences as alternative stable states within female song preference space. We discuss escape from neuronal adaptation as a possible mechanism underlying such latent preferences.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3519204.
- Received September 6, 2016.
- Accepted October 10, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.